Nick Kyrgios

Wimbledon 2019: The Five Things We Would Love To See Happen

With Wimbledon underway, tennis fans will be eagerly anticipating the outcome of the most prestigious tournament on the calendar. The All England Club will once again play host to the third tennis major of 2019, where a whole host of players will all ensue in battle to try and take the coveted prize. The thing with Wimbledon, is that it tends to be the same old drill every year.

That’s not to say the tournament isn’t exciting, but wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air with a bit more controversy and some stand-out talking points. Throughout its glorious history, Wimbledon has served up some of the most magical and iconic moments – but we would love to see the below happen this year. FYI, this is nothing more than light-hearted fun, so please take it with a pinch of salt… or a dollop of strawberries and cream!

John McEnroe to launch an unnecessary tirade at anyone

John McEnroe was perhaps more notorious for his foul-mouthed tirades than his superb tennis ability, and the current BBC commentator could cause quite the stir again this year. How I can hear you ask? Well, imagine a bad call being made and McEnroe revisits yesteryear and storms out of the media section and squares up to the umpire. I mean, it will have nothing to do with him but the humour factor would be brilliant.

Tim Henman make a comeback and wins a semi-final game

Ah, Tiger Tim. The nearly man who never quite made it in his heyday during the late 1990s and early noughties. Henman’s efforts were never in doubt, although he never made it to a Grand Slam final so wouldn’t it be a remedy of sorts if he hijacked the men’s semi-finals and took the match point to warrant a place in the final! Come on Tiger Tim, you can do it! Imagine the scenes!

Andy Murray branches out from his monotone voice

He won’t be featuring in the men’s singles this year, but Andy Murray will be flying the flag for Britain in the men’s doubles at least. The two-time winner is likely to retire after the tournament, which means we’ll be missing Murray’s lethargic and tiring post-match interviews. The seemingly unenthusiastic Murray has often been criticised for his monotone voice, so wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if he delivered his thoughts and feelings in a much more positive fashion. Sign off on a high note, eh Mr Murray.

Nick Kyrgios being nice to umpires

He is one of the most controversial players to grace the game and certainly someone who is no stranger to trouble, so imagine a certain Nick Kyrgios actually being nice to people, namely umpires. The hot-headed Australian has been the centre of many misconduct charges in recent years and his charge sheet shows no signs of slowing, so wouldn’t it be a welcome relief to see him actually be pleasant to everybody, for a change.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic having a big fight

Okay, so this would be a rather peculiar sequence of events and one that would really tarnish the game, but what if the three best players on the men’s circuit all had a huge scrape in the middle of Centre Court? The reasoning behind it is unclear at this stage, but we’d guestimate that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would all be trying to settle who is the best of the best. I mean, we could just determine it from the tennis the play and the H2H records but that’s just boring, isn’t it.

All jokes aside, take a look at all the latest prices for this year’s event at Paddy Power, where you can bet on Wimbledon right now.

The Nick Kyrgios-Popularized Underhand Serve Is Trail Blazing

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

It is said that rules are meant to be broken. In sports, however, there are a few rules that can seem like they have been broken, especially when followed to a T. Like employing an underarm serve and receiving flak for it even though it is permissible under the sport’s regulations.

Nick Kyrgios’ irreverent usage of the underarm serve in his matches – against Rafael Nadal at the Mexican Open in Acapulco, and against Dusan Lajovic at the Miami Open – raised a furore even to the extent of fingers being pointed at him for not respecting his opponent. This, despite Nadal pointedly clarifying that he was not referring to Kyrgios hitting an underarm serve against him.

Borrowing from an oft-used cricketing adage, Kyrgios’ actions, then, seem to be contravening the so-called ‘spirit of the game.’

To elaborate, in the cricketing parlance, nothing brings out the utilisation of this term more than the action of ‘Mankading.’ The term refers to a method of run-out by the bowler of the batter at the non-striker’s end while the batter is positioned out of the crease at the time of the ball being bowled. Former Indian allrounder Vinoo Mankad, who was the first to employ this tactic in a Test series against Australia back in 1947, went on to give it its name which has since come to be used in a denigrating manner in contemporary times.

Like the underarm serve, Mankading, too, is permissible within cricket’s laws and bye-laws except for provisions underlining its prescribed usage. But invariably, like in tennis, in the heat of the moment, using it as a means to score an advantage for the bowling team is construed as an attempt to subvert the ethics of sportsmanship or the aforementioned ‘spirit of the game’, creating an ironic redundancy.

Addressing the subject by dwelling on it, instead of casting it aside, is necessary to curb this existence of irony, especially in tennis.

While in cricket, the code of the sport being a ‘gentleman’s game’ curbs the need to use Mankading time and again, in matches, tennis for its own reasons, too, does not see much of its players take the underarm-serve route (at least in the highest rungs of the professional Tour). Excluding Kyrgios’ ingenuity in his timing of using an underarm serve, it has been seen as a ‘Hail Mary’ with its immediate purpose to help the server recover lost ground – mentally just as much as physically – in a match. Case in point: Michael Chang’s now-famous win over Ivan Lendl in the 1989 French Open final.

That the game is struck on whether the methodology should be applied after nearly three decades of it being the pivot in an all-important match, then, lays emphasis about the sport’s evolution. That regardless of the possibility of an underarm serve coming into play mid-match, it continues to be relegated to mental outposts when it comes to determining tactical unique selling propositions (USPs) merits introspection from the game’s stakeholders. Rather than it being an aspersion on a player choosing to exercise it as a viable option.

In this context, the potentiality of a player serving underarm closely resembles the SABR – the much-lauded and the equally-disparaged Sneak Attack By Roger – pioneered by Roger Federer back in 2015. The Swiss’ manoeuvre of coming to the net even as his opponent was preparing to serve with the ball toss meant that he put the other player on the backfoot even before the ball had been directed from his racquet. Federer’s inventiveness fell in line with the game’s rules but ruffled many feathers, including that of Boris Becker who was then coaching Novak Djokovic.
In these following years, Federer has made use of the strategy frugally partly thanks to his rivals have also become conscious that it could be greeting them in a literal, sneaky manner. This has also led to a lessening of the frenzy surrounding the shot such as it was back when it first came to be a part of tennis’ lexicon. In other words, people got used to it.

So, if tennis’ widespread audiences could adapt to seeing a style of play that was admittedly trail-blazing, rightfully the underarm serve by virtue of being around longer should have seen a similar flexibility. Perhaps, the only way to get it done now is by making it more common, more visible thereby normalising a facet that ought to have always been thus deemed.

Will We See More Of The New Acapulco Nick Kyrgios?

by Rajagopalan Rohinee

In the end, Nick Kyrgios made it look easy in his straight-set title-win over Alexander Zverev in Acapulco. And just like that, he shifted the narrative from how he made his life difficult on-court with his behavioral eccentricities to how effortless he made it seem, as if to reinforce the credibility of his talent all over again. But the takeaway is, did Kyrgios intend for the latter to happen? And, if he did, would he stick with this in the upcoming events or revert to what had been his type (until before Acapulco)?

But the thing is – it does not matter either way. So, when there is talk about him replicating his recent results further along the way or of him living up to his prodigious capabilities, there is a passing over of external expectations onto him. This also creates unnecessary and unwanted obligations for him to do well so as to fulfil promises invoked under his name by the audiences – thereby creating a vicious cycle of presumptions and disappointments.

Come to think of it, then, Kyrgios has had no part to play in this cyclical display of unfulfilled expectations. All along, while these have played around him – since he first defeated Rafael Nadal at 2014 Wimbledon – he has been true to himself. In trying to make him change, to make him conform to stipulations – well-established and therefor, expected – the audiences are doing him a disservice and yet again, piling up their notion of an ideal player on his shoulders.

Contextually, then, Kyrgios is no different to other people – in everyday life – with ebbs and flows to match. A random someone finds it harder to make it to his line of work, or finds innumerable faults with it. Yet, there is a dogged continuance in the same work in order to prioritise other aspects of the said someone’s life. Because that is how it has to be. So, why is it surprising when Kyrgios – a youngster – cribs and mouths off about his profession and yet, finds a way to make it work, when he does? If this were not enough, with Kyrgios’ each achievement, a parallel develops in which not only his performance but also his persona is dissected.

After his win in Acapulco, Kyrgios admitted that there were changes he needed to bring about enhance his career. “I’m very lucky to be in this position. I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things. I don’t even have a coach, so maybe I start there,” Kyrgios said, while sharing that he had been jet-skiing a few hours before playing the final. What he said and he choose to do proved Kyrgios’ contradictoriness. As it showed well-established precedents – not only set by other players in the sport but also in general, in life – had their limits, and their exceptions.

In fairness, it would be wrong to say that these quirks would work each time. But in sport as in life, nothing is a given. Wins and losses are par for the course, and for each time Kyrgios has been (rightfully called out) for his lack of efforts, observers also need to equally righteously appreciate his committed performances while letting him be. Tennis needs its share of mercurialness and it would be a poorer place without Kyrgios in it.

It’s All In The Head For Nick Kyrgios

It’s often quite frustrating when you see a player who undoubtedly has talent but lacks the temperament to make it to the very top of their game. The career of Australian Nick Kyrgios has been littered with such incidents and again it’s surfaced at the Miami Open. His world ranking is rising, though, so could he rid himself of his inner demons and one day become a Grand Slam-winning top ten player?

A poor temperament can limit the success a player has. Take Ilie Nastase for example, a great player who would surely have won more Grand Slams if he hadn’t lost his temper so many times. The same can be said about John McEnroe, an all-time great but one who should have won more titles than he did. Even Ronnie O’Sullivan, one of the greatest ever snooker players, has had to seek help regarding his mental approach to the game.obably never will. Yet here’s a player with great potential, particularly on a grass court. A Wimbledon title can’t be ruled out and he’s 20/1 at Paddy Power to win there this year. To keep himself at the top of his game for a fortnight is a task that looks beyond him. There always seems to be a temper tantrum just around the corner, doesn’t there?

Last year saw him suspended for three weeks for “lack of best efforts” in a game against Mischa Zverev. Future champions don’t go around asking umpires, “Can you call time so I can finish this match and go home?” Later he claimed he doesn’t owe fans anything, so a future career in public relations isn’t that likely.

2017 has been a mixed bag so far for Kyrgios. The Australian Open wasn’t a great experience for him as he lost to Andreas Seppi in the second round, despite leading two sets to love. Kyrgios even considered taking a break from the game. He felt that all the country was against him but help from his family helped change that view.

When a player is on record as saying “I think when things get tough. I’m just a little bit soft,” then you know something has to change. He has sought some help regarding his often appalling mental approach to the game and it looks as if that might be paying off.

His form has improved and he has twice beaten Novak Djokovic, including at Indian Wells on his way to the last eight. Who knows, he might have progressed further but for having to pull out of his quarter-final with Roger Federer (who could teach him a few lessons on how to behave during a game) due to illness. His ranking is up to 16 and due to rise higher, especially if he were to have a good clay court season.

But again, the bad side of his character was shown during the Miami Open. He appeared to reprimand a ball boy during his match with Ivo Karlovic. “How am I supposed to catch that? It’s right at my feet,” the Australian shouted, leading to boos from the crowd. Okay, he made up with the ball boy later but it’s still a sign that his temperament isn’t quite up to scratch.

At the age of 21, Kyrgios is still a work in progress. The talent is there and he could well be a Wimbledon Champion one day, but the fiery Australian still has a lot of maturing to do in the meantime.

Andreas Seppi Comes From Two Sets Down In Marathon Australian Open Upset of Nick Kyrgios

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Andreas Seppi pulled off a massive upset on Wednesday in Melbourne as he battled back from two sets to love down to upset the home favorite Nick Kyrgios, 1-6, 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8.

“It was a very tough match. I didn’t start well but I started to play better and better. Last time (against Kyrgios) I was two sets to love up and lost and I thought I would try to do the same to him,” Seppi said.

This isn’t the first time the Italian has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open, as he took out Roger Federer in the third round of the 2015 event.

Kyrgios, the 21-year old seeded No. 14 in this year’s Australian Open, has been pegged as one of the brightest upcoming stars for Australian tennis for the past couple years now, but has often raised eyebrows due to his temperament and demeanor on court.

He’s been seen noticeably tanking during matches, showing a lack of effort or care for the game, and another early, disappointing loss for Kyrgios will have his fans questioning his dedication to tennis once again.

“It’s obviously disappointing, but it was ultimately a pretty fun match,” said Kyrgios, who heard a few boos while walking off the court after the loss. “Obviously it’s not the greatest thing to hear. I didn’t have the best preparation coming into the Australian Open. But getting booed off, definitely not the best feeling.”

The match between Kyrgios and Seppi started how many would have expected it to, with Kyrgios rolling through the first set, including a break at love in Seppi’s first service game of the match. No breaks, or even any break points, were seen in the second set, but Kyrgios was still able to win it with ease as he opened up a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak and didn’t look back, taking it 7-1.

Seppi was able to make his presence felt in the second set, but you would have expected his fight to die down after missing out on the opportunity to even up the match. That was far from what happened, though, as the Italian veteran, now ranked No. 89 after being as high as No. 18 in 2013, roared back in the next two sets.

The young Australian just had no answer for Seppi, as he was once again unable to get a look at even a single break point in the third set, allowing the Italian to break at 4-4 to go up 5-4, and then comfortably hold to take the set.

“I was more concentrating on my game, not looking too much at what he is doing. I was focusing on my game and it worked out good for me,” Seppi said, as Kyrgios received two code violations and a point penalty in the third set.

In the fourth, Seppi had zero trouble. He broke in Kyrgios’ first service game of the set before breaking four games later for a double break lead. Once again, Seppi faced zero break points.

Seppi continued his roll in the decider, going up a break at 6-5 and serving for the match. Kyrgios finally woke up and saw his first break chances since the first set, as he broke back with ease to prolong the match. Just a couple games later, with Kyrgios up 8-7, he had a look at one more break point, a match point at this time, but Seppi was able to fight it off with a forehand winner.

That would prove to be the climax of the match as Seppi would go on to win 10 of the next 13 points after saving match point, breaking Kyrgios for a 9-8 lead before holding at 15 for the win, 10-8 in the fifth.

Andreas Seppi will take on Steve Darcis for a spot in the fourth round in the Australian Open.

Stan Wawrinka Wins Ninth Final In A Row, Djokovic Wins No. 700 – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

  • Novak Djokovic earned his 700th career match win in Dubai, beating Jaziri in straight sets. He is now the third active player with 700 wins, behind Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
  • The 28-point tiebreak in Dubai that was played between Stan Wawrinka and Marcos Baghdatis was the longest in an ATP final since Andy Roddick beat Mardy Fish in San Jose in 2004, also playing a 28-point tiebreak.
  • Wawrinka’s title in Dubai extends his win streak in finals to nine after starting his career 4-9 in finals.
  • There were four finals played last week that involved a player with a one-handed backhand and a player with a two-handed backhand. All four of the players with one-handed backhands prevailed, including Dominic Thiem over Bernard Tomic, Pablo Cuevas over Pablo Carreno Busta, Wawrinka over Baghdatis, and Carla Suarez Navarro over Jelena Ostapenko.
  • Cuevas played seven left-handers in a row, including all five of his opponents that he beat en route to his title in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first player to win a title playing only left-handers along the way. Cuevas played Facundo Bagnis twice, Thiago Monteiro twice, Federico Delbonis, Nadal, and Guido Pella.
  • Nick Kyrgios held all 47 of his service games during his title run in Marseille before being broken in his first service game in Dubai.
  • Baghdatis served up a bagel to Roberto Bautista Agut in Dubai. The last time he had won a set 6-0 was against Andy Murray at the French Open in 2010. Baghdatis has won four 6-0 sets against players in the Top 20, but only won two of the four matches that included bagels.
  • Franko Skugor of Croatia won his first match on the ATP World Tour in six years in Dubai, beating Teymuraz Gabashvili in straight sets. His most recent win came in July of 2010 in Umag when he beat Filippo Volandri.

Roberta Vinci Becomes Oldest Top 10 Debutant – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

  • The WTA event in Dubai this week was the first time that all eight seeds of a WTA or ATP event lost in their first matches.
  • The final in Rio de Janeiro between Guido Pella and Pablo Cuevas had the highest combined ranking of the two finalists in the history of ATP 500 level events. The final was also the first all-unseeded final since Valencia in 2011.
  • Roberta Vinci became the oldest player on the WTA to reach the Top 10 for the first time in their career. At 33 years and 4 days, Vinci leaps previous record holder Betty Stove who was 31 years and 100 days old when she cracked the Top 10 for the first time.
  • In Nick Kyrgios’ title run in Marseille, he became the first player aged 20 years old or younger to win consecutive matches against Top 10 players (Gasquet and Berdych) since Juan Martin Del Potro did so in the semifinals and finals of the 2009 US Open (Nadal and Federer).
  • Thiago Monteiro, a 21 year old Brazilian, made his ATP World Tour debut as a wild card in Rio de Janeiro, and became the first player ranked outside the Top 300 to beat a Top 10 player in his ATP debut since Corrado Borroni beat Yevgeny Kafelnikov in Rome in 1995.
  • In Rajeev Ram’s run to the final in Delray Beach, he beat Grigor Dimitrov along the way, increasing his unexpected head-to-head record against the Bulgarian to 4-0.
  • In John Isner’s loss to Pella in Rio de Janeiro, Isner hit the most aces in a best-of-three set match on clay that he has ever hit in his career, 31.
  • Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin won the doubles title in Delray Beach, beating Bob and Mike Bryan in the final. Marach and Martin saved six match points in the final, including coming back from 5-9 down in the match tiebreak.
  • Sander Groen played in the doubles event in Delray Beach this week. Groen has been in the ATP rankings for 27 consecutive years now, and helped Roger Federer win his first professional title, winning the doubles title in Segovia in 1999. Groen also holds the record for most partners played with throughout his career, as he has played with 172 different partners on the challenger circuit and World Tour level.
  • Marco Chiudinelli won the Wroclaw challenger this week, his first challenger title since 2009. In doing so, he won his 10th consecutive tiebreak.

Roland Garros Day 3: Links Roundup with Nadal, Sock, Gulbis, Stephens and more

Roland Garros Roundup takes you through the Slam’s hot stories of the day, both on and off the court.

Shot of the day: A stormy view of Suzanne Lenglen court where Tommy Haas took out  Guillaume Rufin in straight sets “while sick and on antibiotics” as tweeted by his proud wife, Sara Foster.

Rain, Rain, Go Away: Day 3 of the French Open commenced with an unfortunate 2.5 hour rain delay. The lengthy delay not only pushed back the third day of opening round matches, but it puts players such as Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova at disadvantage because as the Associated Press reports, “They won’t begin until at least Wednesday, three days after some players were already into the second round.”

Philipp Kohlschreiber tells all:  In this Road to Roland Garros feature, German Philipp Kohlschreiber discusses the prospect of serving up a triple bagel, his favorite movie and actor, his goals when entering a match, and even dresses up in a Viking costume.

Nick Kyrgios poised and patient:  In an interview following his first round victory over Radek Stepanek, Australian Nick Kyrgios said “playing juniors has been a major step in being so confident” but he realizes thinking too far ahead can spell trouble.  His coach, Simon Rea, echoed this sentiment stating, “I don’t view this as a skyrocketing path to the top 50 for Nick (but rather) an important step on his journey.”

Sloane Stephens and Rafael Nadal demonstrate erratic nature of tennis:  As Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated describes, Rafael Nadal and Sloane Stephens have had markedly different results since the Australian Open but their first round matches would indicate otherwise. 

Given his form coming in, he figured to make quick work of Daniel Brands, a German journeyman of little regard” but as any tennis player and fan can attest to and as Wertheim articulates “there are no sure bets in tennis.” Nadal fans held their breath for nearly two sets before the Spaniard ran away with the win in four.

“Since Australia, it’s been tough sledding for Stephens … (but) on Monday, with efficiency and deceptively hard hitting, she pushed aside Karin Knapp 6-2 7-5.”

Jack Sock playing in the memory of friends: In a picture American Jack Sock posted via twitter, he indicated he is “not only playing for myself but for two friends that passed away in the last couple of weeks.” Sock penned in the initials of his two friends on the shoes he would presumably be wearing during the French Open: Brian Boyd from his high school days and Alex Rovello from their years playing in the juniors, who was a University of Oregon tennis player and died in a tragic accident recently. Today, Sock recorded his first ever victory at the French Open over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain in straight sets.

Ernests Gulbis discusses future, on court etiquette: In an article written by Reem Abulleil of Sport 360, Gulbis stated that recognizes the lack of pressure he will deal with for the rest of the season. He said, “I have no points to defend until the end of the year.  I think ranking wise I’m probably in the best position of anybody.  Step by step we’re going to get somewhere.”  Although Gulbis may display animosity toward his opponents on and off the court he told Sport 360 “I can sometimes be disrespectful in some press conferences but when I play, I really want to respect the opponent.”

Bernard Tomic injured, forced to retired, comments on father: Bernard Tomic was forced to retire in his opening round match of the French Open against Victor Hanescu claiming that he felt his “leg sort of tear and didn’t know what it was.” Not wanting to talk about the incident in Madrid with his father, Tomic only said “my dad’s still my coach, and he’ll always be, because, you know, I grew up with him and he knows me better than everyone else.” Tomic said in regards to injury that he is “lucky it’s not huge” and that he should be ready in time for Wimbledon.

19-year-old Lucas Pouille scores massive win: Lucas Pouille, a 19-year-old French wildcard, won his first ever tour level match, defeating American wildcard Alex Kuznestov in three convincing sets.  In an article (translated) written by Lucas Apulia of francetv, Pouille stated, “It was fabulous, I had an incredible time. When I finished the game, I was really happy.”

Roland Garros Day 2: Links Roundup with Monfils, Ivanovic, Stakhovsky, Kyrgios and more

Roland Garros Roundup takes you through the Slam’s hot stories of the day, both on and off the court.

  • Shot of the day: Gael Monfils’ surprise win over world No. 6 Tomas Berdych has been the result of the tournament so far. His four-hour, 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-7(4), 7-5 win had the Parisian crowd on their feet, and commentators and fans alike dropping their jaws at the athleticism of both players, particularly the Frenchman.
  • Li Na’s first round victory clouded by chaotic officiating:  Serving a set down and 4-4 30-40 in the second set, Na’s opponent, Annabel Medina Garrigues hit a backhand down the line which was initially called out, overruled by umpire Louise Engzell, and then as Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times reports, “Engzell pivoted to face Medina Garrigues and told her she would lose the point because she softly said ‘no’ constituting hindrance” after Na argued with Engzell over the call.   Medina Garrigues conceded the point and engaged Engzell in a lengthy debate over the hindrance rule on the changeover before losing the final game of the match. Oh, and she brought up Maria Sharapova’s grunting. Of course.
  • Sergiy Stakhovsky moonlights as tennis’s newest photojournalist: Sergiy Stakhovsky was visibly frustrated over an out call in the first set of his opening match with Richard Gasquet so much so, that he took a picture of the mark in question and posted it for the twitter world to see.  As Courtney Nguyen of Sports Illustrated points out, Stakhovsky’s photography prowess has precedent as the Ukranian took a photo of a disputed call several weeks ago also in Munich. Will this become a monthly occurrence by the Ukranian? 
  • John Tomic banned for good:  Despite the International Tennis Federation permitting Bernard Tomic’s father from entering the French Open as paying spectator after he assaulted Bernard’s hitting partner in Madrid, the French Open organizers, as ESPN reports, “will not let Bernard Tomic’s father into Roland Garros, even as paying spectator.” 

“That I was an honest person, that I always tried to look for the silver lining. And I hope people will say that I was a great tennis player, even if there are more important things in life.”

  • American women flying high:  Though Americans are usually not known for their clay court skills, the American woman had a stellar day at the French Open, going 6-1 on the day including wins by Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Melanie Oudin, who ousted 28th-seeded Tamira Paszek in straight sets.  Lauren Davis,  Coco Vandeweghe, and Jamie Hampton hope to repeat the success the American women had Monday as they take to the court for their opening round matches tomorrow. 

“When you’re good in the juniors, it doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be good in men’s tennis,” Stepanek said.  “But definitely he has some talent. He’s serving big and if he keeps working hard, he definitely has a chance.”

Check back on Wednesday for more “Roland Garros Roundup”!

Roland Garros Rewind: Monfils Stuns, Nadal Survives, Sharapova and Radwanska Cruise

Welcome back to your daily review of the studs and duds at Roland Garros 2013.

ATP:

Match of the day:  Five sets and four hours.  Three tiebreaks and a 7-5 final set.  A two-set lead squandered by the man who eventually won—after saving triple break point midway through the fifth.  A home underdog firing 26 aces and 66 winners on his nation’s biggest stage to upset a top-eight seed who hit 72 winners of his own.  Rarely is the match that looks like the best of the day in the first round actually the best of the day, but Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych put on perhaps the best show of any men’s match that we will see all week.  The section has opened a bit for Monfils if he can defuse the equally dangerous dark horse Ernests Gulbis in the second round.  That match looks like the highlight of Thursday, although it has a hard act to follow.

Comeback of the day:  Last week’s Dusseldorf champion Juan Monaco looked well on his way to a routine victory when he won the first two sets by single-break margins and reached a tiebreak in the third.  Perhaps aided by his opponent’s fatigue, Daniel Gimeno-Traver thrust himself back into the match by snatching that tiebreak and stormed all the way back to an upset over the seventeenth seed.

Surprise of the day:  It was not an upset in the end,  but Daniel Brands surely turned more heads than anyone when he came within a tiebreak of leading Rafael Nadal by two sets to love.  The master of Roland Garros had not lost the first set in a first-week match there since 2006, although he once  survived a five-setter against John Isner.  Brands channeled his inner Soderling in explosive serving and bullet forehands that thrust Nadal on his heels for far longer than anyone could have expected.

Gold star:  Australian youngster Nick Kyrgios gave his nation something to cheer amid the latest Bernard Tomic controversy.  Kyrgios defeated veteran Radek Stepanek in three tiebreaks, saving several set points in each of the last two.  The 53 total tiebreak points played might survive as a tournament record.

Silver star:  Allez les bleus.  While Nadal battled with Brands on Philippe Chatrier, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga rolled through in straight sets on Suzanne Lenglen.  Later in the day, second-ranked Frenchman Richard Gasquet did the same, and even Julien Benneteau won a match on clay for just the second time this year.  Combined with the Monfils upset, these victories added up to an excellent day for the hosts.

Wooden spoon:  When Andy Murray withdrew, Marcel Granollers moved up from unseeded to seeded position.  That promotion served him no benefit as he lost his first match to countryman Feliciano Lopez in five sets and two days.  By contrast, Tommy Robredo profited from the seed that he received with Juan Martin Del Potro’s withdrawal by advancing further into the section vacated by Berdych.

Americans in Paris:  John Isner and Ryan Harrison, both of whom have struggled for most of the year, each notched comfortable straight-sets victories.  Assigned Nice champion Albert Montanes, Steve Johnson battled gallantly into a fifth set as he had against Nicolas Almagro at the Australian Open.  American men have no reason to feel shame so far at historically their worst major.

Question of the day:  Who comes out of Berdych’s section of the draw to reach the quarterfinals?

Question of the day, II:  Does Nadal’s first-round frailty reduce your confidence in him as a title threat?

WTA:

Match of the day:  None could compete with Berdych-Monfils or with Urszula-Venus the day before.  This award goes to a battle between two clay-courters who have produced outstanding recent results.  Rome semifinalist Simona Halep won the first set from world No. 20 Carla Suarez Navarro, but the Spaniard rallied with the form that brought her to two clay finals this year.  A pity that the draw forced them to meet in the first round, and a pity that the match was not scheduled on a televised court.

Comeback of the day:  Channeling a little of her inner Monfils, Garbine Muguruza scorched 46 winners and dropped serve just twice in three sets to ambush fellow power-hitter Karolina Pliskova.  The Venezuelan-born citizen of Spain recorded her first career win at Roland Garros barely a year after her first appearance in a WTA main draw.

Statements of the day:  Although they fell a bit short of Serena’s suffocating brilliance, top-four seeds Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska started the tournament in emphatic style.  Defending champion Sharapova conceded just three games to top-50 opponent Hsieh Su-wei, while Radwanska yielded just two games to former top-15 player Shahar Peer.  The latter result came as a mild surprise because of the newly blonde Pole’s struggles on clay this year.

Gold star:  Everyone thought that Laura Robson would knock off world No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki in the first round, and everyone thought very wrong.  Wozniacki ended a five-match losing streak by dominating the British teenager from start to finish.  Perhaps a movie night with Rory McIlroy the day before (they saw Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained) allowed her to forget her recent futility.

Silver star:  The most unsurprising surprise of the day came when the 2009 Roland Garros champion dispatched compatriot Ekaterina Makarova.  In Serena’s quarter, Kuznetsova could meet Wozniacki in a rematch of their Australian Open three-set thriller.  Sveta bounced back impressively from one of the worst losses of her career in Rome.

Wooden spoon:  Outstanding performances on grass last year meant that Tamira Paszek received a seed at Roland Garros despite winning only one match in 2013.  When the slightly less moribund Melanie Oudin dispatched her with ease, Paszek will head to the grass season with the vast majority of points at stake.  Early losses at Eastbourne and Wimbledon will push her ranking down an elevator shaft.

Americans in Paris:  In addition to the aforementioned Oudin, several other women from the United States fared well on Day 2.  Bethanie Mattek-Sands set up a second-round meeting with Li Na, while newer talents Varvara Lepchenko and Madison Keys cruised.  Vania King also advanced in straight sets to complete a perfect record today for the USA.

Question of the day:  Which American woman of those who won day will go furthest?

Question of the day, II:  Should we feel more impressed by Wozniacki or more disappointed by Robson?